Australia is considered to have one of the best health care systems in the world. It has consistently been ranked to be among the top health systems, due to their combination of public and private systems that complement each other to provide quality care to the public.
Unfortunately, no health system is perfect as there are still issues that can put a strain to initiatives and programs dedicate to health care. As such, further enhancing of said programs must be done in order to overcome these challenges.
Of course, knowing about these specific health issues will go a long way towards solving these problems. With this, here are some of the public health issues being faced by Australia now.
Rise of Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases are medical conditions that require long term treatment or maintenance. In many cases, chronic conditions are hard to treat and can be the direct cause of death. Perhaps most importantly, chronic diseases make up most of the health burden of the Australian health system.
According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, a total of eight chronic conditions make up 61% of the total health burden. Reports also indicate that these eight conditions make up 37% of hospitalizations and 87% of deaths, either as a direct cause or as complications brought upon by the disease.
The top eight chronic conditions in Australia include:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Back Pain
- Mental Health Problems
Australia has seen rises in the above and other chronic conditions over the years, and the country must exert efforts to be able to accommodate these increasing cases while still being able to provide top-quality care.
The use of illicit substances has always been a problem, with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs such as methamphetamine being the main culprits. While recent years have seen a decline in people who have tried alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, treatment of an increasing number of addicts is still a major health issue.
Data shows that there is still a large number of young people that are still trying out illicit substances, with alcohol and cannabis being the most popular. Methamphetamines, though, pose the greatest danger due to the difficulty to quit as well as the inherent dangers of overdoses and prolonged use.
Rehabilitation is necessary for addicts to fully recover, and this can be a long and harm process that has low to moderate chances of success. Treating those suffering from substance abuse as well as minimizing relapses should remain one of Australia’s top priorities when it comes to health care.
Rising Obesity Rates
A 2018 report stated that over two-thirds of Australians are either overweight or obese. This is very troubling news as the extra weight poses major health risks for those carrying extra pounds in their bodies. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle are to blame for the rising obesity rates being experienced in the country.
Those who are overweight or obese are at high risk of developing chronic diseases. While these complications can occur at any age, the chances will increase proportionally to your age in most cases. As such, while teenagers may get away with having a few extra fat around the waist, for the middle-aged and elderly, it could be a matter of life and death.
As such, the Australian government must strengthen drives to promote health and to educate the public on the risks of obesity. Only by doing this can obesity rates decrease in a manner that
Health Gap Between Native and Non-Native Australians
Another serious and quite controversial public health issue in Australia is the difference in the quality of health and health care between native and non-native Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been known to lack quality access to health care along with living in environments not particularly conducive to good health.
As a result of this, native Australians take up a large majority of the Australian health care burden despite comprising of only a small portion of the entire Australian population. There are also higher cases of substance abuse, mental health issues, respiratory diseases, and infections within the native Australian society.
With this, the Australian government has made efforts to close the gap between native and non-native Australians. The main goal is to provide better opportunities for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders to get better quality health care, as well as to help improve the population’s life expectancy and the quality of those years.
Mental Health Issues
The past few years have seen a rise in mental health issues for Australians. However, it is not only adults and the elderly that is being affected, as a large majority of children as young as four years old are being diagnosed with mental disorders as well.
Common mental disorders being reported to include anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and ADHD. Reports also indicate that a vast majority of these go undiagnosed. This, in turn, results in several complications such as loss of employment, poor relationships, substance abuse, and even harm to self or to others.
Raising awareness about mental health is very important so that the population can be more confident to seek help. It is also important to remove the stigma about the disease so that sufferers can come forward to find specialists or support groups for assistance and support.
An Ageing Population
Advances in health care and treatment have allowed many Australians to live long lives. While this may be something to be joyful about, this also results in a large health burden especially when it comes to aged care. Taking care of the elderly can be very costly especially if they are stricken with one or more chronic conditions.
In Australia, the number of elderly is rising. In fact, 15% of the population is made up of Australians aged 65 years old and above. The country, thus, is responsible for ensuring that the elderly, along with those about to reach that age bracket, live healthy and productive lives so as to not overtax the health care system in their advanced age.